Questions for John Brennan

David Cole, a professor of law at Georgetown, poses twelve essential questions for Obama’s nominee for Director of the CIA, John Brennan.

There are a number of great questions here, including a question about the “legal authorities” behind the classified drone program–a topic recently pursued by Senator Wyden (about the only Senator willing to question the administration’s military/intelligence programs). But the one that I’d most like to see an answer to is this one:

5. It has been reported that, in addition to “personality strikes” against particular known individuals, the administration also uses “signature strikes” against unidentified individuals who show patterns of behavior characteristic of a particular militant or terrorist group. In what situations, beyond a traditional battlefield, is it appropriate to use such strikes? What constitutes a sufficient “signature” to warrant a strike?

In other words, what are the specific “patterns of life” that constitute a perceived threat? And how are these patterns surveilled and made knowledgeable? If we had answers to those questions we would advance our understanding of how geographical technologies and concepts were being used or misused.

In this context, check out this poll by Pew Global on attitudes towards the US drone program around the world:

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